The Lagos State Police Command on Tuesday, paraded a Beninnois native doctor, Rasheed Akinola, who admitted to being the armourer to a gang of trans-border armed robbers, who specialised in snatching exotic vehicles in Nigeria and moving them to Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Akinola was paraded by the Police Commissioner Imohimi Edgal alongside three members of the gang- Ajagba Hammed, 30, alias John T, Tobinju Potel, 35, alias Popo and Botan Remmy, 30.
According to the native doctor, he usually smuggled the gang’s weapons into Nigeria through bush path, adding that they paid him N15, 000 for the job.
He further confess that he had been responsible for the charms used by the gang over the years, which he claimed ensured they went out and returned successfully.
“They came to my place in Port-Novo to collect charms to protect them during robbery. I collected CFA 30,000 for the charm. I have also helped them to cross arms through Idiroko for N15, 000 per transaction. I have only done that twice. The charm protects them and opens the way for them. I was arrested at Mile Two.”
On his part, the gang leader, Hammed said he usually got the guns from one Benedict, a car dealer in Cotonou.
He said that Benedict was his godfather, adding that he just snatched exotic cars, took them to the dealer who gave him any amount he deemed fit.
“It was polo who called us to come and rob this year. We have robbed twice – two cars. It is a car dealer that collects the vehicle and he gives us anything he feels like. He is the one who gives us the guns. He is my chairman. For that Prado, he gave us CFA300, 000.”
Potel claimed a Nigerian driver invited him to take part in the robbery, adding that the driver took one of the two vehicles they stole in the country.
Briefing newsmen, the police boss said the suspects met their waterloo on January 20, around 9pm, after they snatched two Prado Sports Utility Vehicle (SUVs) belonging to Olayinka Oyebola and Fidel Onwodi at Victoria Island and Ikoyi respectively.
The criminals abandoned Oyebola’s vehicle which they snatched first at Babatunde Crescent in Oniru, Victoria Island, because they suspected it had a tracker and then went after Onwodi, who had stopped along Kingsway Road with his wife for beef barbecue.
According to Edgal, the criminals confined the couple to the back seat but Mrs. Onwodi took advantage of gridlock and jumped off the vehicle before they got to Third Mainland Bridge.
An AK47 marked PE-2473; 43 AK49 live ammunition; a locally made cut to size double barrel gun; six live cartridges, a licence plate number JD697KJA and assorted charms were recovered from them.
“The criminals stripped their first victim, Oyebola naked, took him to Ajah/Epe road and pushed him off the vehicle. They made way with his smart phone and N45, 000 which he withdrew from the Zenith Bank Automated Teller Machine (ATM) at Ajose Adeogun,” Edgal said
“The criminals continued their journey until they got to Ikoyi, opposite Southern Sun Hotel, where they sighted another Toyota Prado SUV marked ABC853LK driven by Fidel Onwodi accompanied by his wife.
“The couple had parked to buy beef barbecue. The robbers parked beside Onwodi’s SUV and ordered the couple to move to the rear of the car. The man’s wife summoned courage and jumped off the moving vehicle. She took advantage of the slow traffic on the road. The criminals continued moving and abandoned her husband on Third Mainland Bridge.
“They made away with his SUV while that of Oyebola was parked at a location in Babatunde Crescent, Oniru, where undercover operatives of the command recovered it. The suspects confessed to series of robbery operations in which exotic cars were snatched at gunpoint. They also confessed that Onwodi’s car was in Cotonou. Investigation is ongoing. The suspects have owned up to the crime and are assisting the police with information that would help in recovering the Prado SUV presently in Cotonou and arrest of other gang members,” he added.